Saskatoon

French-speaking people in Sask. speak out against insensitive meme

The anonymous Instagram account @sasky.memes has posted a meme discouraging people from speaking French in public.

French-speaking population of Saskatchewan reacting to meme posted by the anonymous sasky.memes account

This meme was created by the Instagram account sasky.memes and caused debate about language diversity in the comments (sasky.memes)

Saskatchewan's francophone community is reacting to a meme posted by the anonymous — and popular — Instagram account @sasky.memes.

The image shows a perturbed-looking character, with the text "Me when I hear someone speaking French in public."

Once a debate began in the post's comments, the anonymous creator posted to his Instagram story, apologizing "to any Francois (sic) who got offended by the meme."

"This was a joke and I don't genuinely hate French people."

A commenter joked that perhaps the creator had failed French class.

The creator fired back: "Joke's on you [...] I never took French."

The account has over 500 followers on the social media platform.

The anonymous creator of @sasky.memes sent a message in their Instagram story saying sorry to "Francois" who were offended. (@sasky.memes on Instagram)

'It's not really funny'

Zoé Fortier is a Fransaskois artist who has led meme workshops and promoted cultural diversity and inclusion in the province. (Bridget Yard/CBC News)
Fransaskois artist Zoé Fortier knows a thing or two about memes. She has worked in diversity and inclusion for the province, and has even spoken to groups about the power of social media.

"Humour is well-performed when it is informed and capable of distinguishing subtleties," she said.

"To this day, people will tell Francophone people in the street or in their towns to not speak their language in public."

Fortier fears that people from minority groups will hear these comments and refrain from speaking their language. She points to Saskatchewan's fabric of Ukrainian, German, Norweigian, and French — to name a few minority languages.

Additionally, many First Nations languages are at risk because for some, few people in Saskatchewan speak them.

In a private message to Radio-Canada, the creator — who did not give his name — said he appreciates the discussion and the points raised in the comments.

He has erased some of his comments since posting the meme because he felt later that they went too far.

'We're legitimizing the dominance of English"

Professor Jérôme Melançon studies intercultural relations and minority languages. (Université de Regina)
Professor Jérôme Melançon studies French and minority languages and how they intertwine. He recognizes the meme as a small setback, and that public discussion of minority languages is far more productive than a debate in the comments section.

"We're legitimizing the dominance of English," he said, when politicans use anti-French rhetoric, or when policies are put in place, or cut, in a way that devalues the French language.

Melançon is hopeful, though."What we do see beyond values is our expression of opinions, and the very real engagement of parents who put their children in French immersion."

Those programs have been growing steadily in Saskatchewan.

"It's leading to all kinds of young people who are able to function in both languages, and who find value in French."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bridget Yard

Reporter

Bridget Yard is a video journalist based in Saskatoon. She has also worked for CBC in Fredericton and Bathurst, N.B.

with files from Pascale Langlois

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